As I've said before I've moved around a lot and things get lost. My sketchbooks contain notes and ideas for paintings, poems shopping lists ( predicted by Mr Warnes at high school) , so a lot of the early fragments for paintings which no longer exist exist there.
To start learning how to paint I had to unlearn ideas and preconceptions about what painting was.I started to look at works by children from a book called 'Children are artists' by D.M. Wendlowitz , at the same time as discovering artists like Marcus.Lupertz , Franz kline, De Kooning, Auerbach, Henry Moore and New British Painting, as a student you become a sponge for everything you see. The overlay paintings have their foundations in these sketchbooks, though Steve Payne told me to focus on black and white ( I'm red green colour-blind and colour has always been a battle with me). Some of the images in these sketchbooks reappear in later paintings, nothing you note down in a sketchbook is ever lost.
But the idea wasn't to paint like a child, impossible unless you are a child, I suppose looking back it was an attempt to create a narrative to work with ( thus the title of this blog) , all paintings and images no matter how formal or how abstract, if painted with intention, contain within them an internal logic which is consistent and meaningful, an attempt to define a language in which to hold a conversation with the viewer. That is a search which I've been conducting through my work for many years, and thus certain
symbols occur again and again, the cup the horse a free shape reminiscent of a figure a bit like the tarot card the fool. Also thematically houses, death, cities, horses,planes all these appear constantly and I return to them again and again. ( the pictures left and right were my first sketchbook attempts to put into practice the idea that Steve Payne gave me , I call it for convenience the overlay technique)
So the three sketch's above ( from 1987) work their way through my paintings over the years and reshape themselves ( painting being a conversation between the artist and the work as Pollock pointed out)
And this painting from the 1990s, bottom left which in some ways is a subtle joke about the tutors who taught me at degree level , a lot of them neo - geo abstractionists, a lot of my paintings have in jokes in them If you consider Magrittes' this is not a pipe for a few moments , ( as again pointed out to me by Mr.Warnes) that it isn't a pipe its a painting - a flat surface trying to represent a real object which it can never be, some are jokes in the sense that the houses I paint are often cardboard constructions , the planes I paint are children's toys ( the basis for a lot of my work) , the babies in some of my later paintings are dolls and the skull I use in work from 2008 to 2012 is in fact a child's toy from a magazine teaching children anatomy , a teaching aid , as I say a lot of my paintings have little jokes in them. I appear in many of them , as a baby , as a horse as a magician, what is around me becomes the materials for stories which become paintings.